Thursday, 30 December 2010


I paid my last visit of the year to New Hythe this morning. The weather was so misty and gloomy that taking pictures was a waste of time. The shot of the Water Vole above was taken at New Hythe last year, before I started my blog. These creatures were a common sight down there then and I can remember seeing as many as five in one short stretch of water filled ditch. This year I have seen just one and that was some time back. My New Year's wish is for them to make a recovery there next year.

Anyway, despite the gloomy conditions I managed to record a total of 46 species today, I was well pleased with that. I was also pleased with the amount of Blue Tits, Wrens and Dunnocks around, hopefully they have weathered the storm reasonably well so far. Cetti's Warblers were totally absent though, with none seen or heard during my three and a half hour visit.

Although the thaw is well under way, the lakes are still frozen, meaning hard times still for the Herons and also the Bitterns of which I saw just one today. It saw me first though and lifted up from the south west corner of Abbey Mead lake, disappearing into the fog on the other side, no doubt cursing my interruption. I spent the next half an hour searching for the Firecrest along the southern edge of the lake but without success, although a Goldcrest was a good second best.

There were a couple of Green Woodpeckers on the east scrub which has gone from ice rink to mud bath now and a flock of at least twenty Siskins were along the Brook House track, but no Waxwings there today, or anywhere else for that matter. On the way back, the river path was home to the usual elusive Bullfinches and although I heard a lot of calling only one was spotted, as was a fine male Sparrowhawk which I later saw chasing, and failing to catch a Song Thrush.

With time running out I decided to spend the last half hour watching from the small wood by the river. I was glad I did actually because I saw a Little Egret fly over the river upstream, the first i've seen in a while and an addition to the December list making 67. I also saw a single Redshank downstream opposite the mill and a flock of between twenty and twenty five Lapwings further down. A flotilla of twenty two Gadwall at the mouth of the creek were the stars of the wildfowl show with a supporting cast of Teal, Little Grebes, Moorhens and Mallards. Finally, while taking my boots off back at the car park a lone Jackdaw circled low above me and added itself to the December list, bringing it to a probable close at 68 which is one shy of Warren's prediction for me!

As I said earlier it's unlikely that i'll get out tomorrow, which means that my year list for New Hythe will stay at 102. I'm quite pleased with that, especially as at one point I doubted whether I could reach 100. On the other hand, in 2009 I reached 107 species and it would have been nice to beat that. There were nine species recorded in 2009 that I didn't manage to find this year, they are;

Common Crane



Spotted Flycatcher


Med Gull

Red-crested Pochard


Marsh Harrier

Conversely, there were four species recorded in 2010 which were not seen in 2009 and they are;

Slavonian Grebe



Smew (Redhead)

Of course this is just one part of the story. The bigger picture is the endless mass of amazing Insects, Butterflies, Dragonflies, Damselflies, Reptiles, Amphibians, Mammals, Flowers and wildlife dramas that were seen and sometimes recorded on every visit that I made during the whole year.................roll on 2011 and a happy new year to you!


Warren Baker said...

Hi Phil,
Happy new year mate.

I think as your skills progress as a birder, you can expect 115 -120 bird species in most years at New hythe. Of course that depends alot on the amount of time spent there :-)

Good luck for next year !

Bob Bushell said...

I love the Water Vole, it is beautiful.

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Like you , I hope the Water Voles manage to make a recovery next year , it would be sad to have lost them to pollution .
I think you should be well pleased with 46 on the day , 67 for the month and 102 for the year , well done .
Best wishes to yourself and Carol for the New Year .

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year to you Phil and what a superb shot of the Water Vole.

Simon said...

Lovely Water Vole pic Phil! I've never managed to get over 100 in Mote Park.

JRandSue said...

I agree with Simon,would love to see one,maybe in 2011.
Happy New Year Phil.
Look forward to following your Blog in 2011.
Happy Birding.

Paul said...

Hi Phil, very nice shot of the Water vole there. Myself and my son did see one there a couple of years ago. We also took some photos of a Water Vole in East Malling this year too.